WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will continue in that position in the Obama administration for at least another year, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.
Geoff Morrell, deputy assistant secretary of defense and Pentagon press secretary, told CNN, "Secretary Gates met with the president just before Christmas and gave him a commitment to stay on the job for at least another year.
"They agreed to revisit this issue again later this year, but for all intents and purposes their original agreement still stands: he (Gates) serves at the pleasure of the president indefinitely and he is honored to do so, though he certainly looks forward to one day retiring to his family home in the Pacific Northwest."
Gates served as secretary of defense in the last two years of the Bush administration, and stayed on in the post when Barack Obama took office.
(CNN) - A former attorney to President George W. Bush was arrested Wednesday at his Connecticut home and accused of trying to kill his wife, according to the New Canaan Police Department.
Police said they were responding to a “panic alarm activation” at the home of John Farren, 57, when they were redirected to another house nearby. A resident there had placed a 911 call saying an injured woman was at her home after being “involved in a domestic dispute with her husband” at the couple’s residence. Police said they found the woman “bleeding about her head, face and body.”
Farren was arrested at the couple’s home a short time later, police said. His lawyer had no comment when contacted Thursday by CNN.
Farren was “charged with Criminal Attempt at Murder and Strangulation 1st degree,” according to a police statement. He was arraigned Thursday in Norwalk Superior Court and is being held on a $2 million bond.
Sgt. Carol Ogrinc, a New Canaan Police spokeswoman, confirmed that the 43-year-old woman was Farren’s wife. She “is in stable condition with head and facial injuries,” according to the police statement.
Former colleagues confirm that Farren worked in the Bush administration. An archived press release said that Farren was appointed deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel to the president in June 2007.
–CNN's Mark Preston and Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.
Washington (CNN)- Rank and file House Democrats Wednesday objected to some key provisions in the Senate health care bill during a wide-ranging conference call led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders. Over 100 Members participated in the call meant to update Democrats on health care negotiations.
Among the concerns, according to sources who participated in the call, were the special Medicaid deal Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson cut with Senate leaders and the Senate's excise tax on high end insurance plans to pay for reform.
Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Connecticut, told reporters House Democrats will get a chance to discuss health care with President Obama directly next week, when he is scheduled to address their annual legislative retreat in Washington.
Several members on the call criticized the deal Sen. Nelson negotiated to cover his state's additional Medicaid costs that stem from expanding the program's coverage to more low income Americans.
Washington (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "real reservations" about the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan publishing his recommendations for improved intelligence operations in that country, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
Maj. Gen, Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, published a nearly 30-page document entitled "Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan," through the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The center is closely affiliated with the Obama administration and with experts consulted by Democratic officials.
The report was deeply critical of ongoing intelligence activities and made several recommendations for changes.
Publication through a think tank was highly unorthodox, especially for an intelligence-related matter.
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Thursday that Gates thought the analysis by Flynn was "brilliant" and the recommendations were "spot on."
But "that said, he (Gates) has real reservations about the general's choice of venue for publication," Morrell said.
President Barack Obama released the declassified report Thursday afternoon, along with orders for reviews of the agencies involved. But he told reporters that, "Ultimately, the buck stops with me."
"As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility," he said.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based offshoot of the terrorist network that attacked New York and Washington in 2001, has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25. The suspect in that plot, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, has told investigators he met with Yemeni militants, and his father tried to warn U.S. officials in his home country of Nigeria that his son was becoming radicalized.
U.S. officials knew the al Qaeda operation in Yemen wanted to attack the United States, but failed to uncover the actual Christmas Day plot, said John Brennan, Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. Brennan said his biggest surprise in the review was that the Yemeni affiliate's "aspirations" to attack the United States had become a real and nearly successful plot.
The six-page report summary found that the U.S. government "had sufficient information prior to the attempted December 25 attack to have potentially disrupted the AQAP plot."
The official, John Brennan, said the realization that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's "aspirations" to attack the United States had become a real and nearly successful plot was his biggest surprise in reviewing intelligence failures surrounding the event.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will not be speaking at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, but she has accepted an invitation to speak at a higher profile event that could have implications for the 2012 presidential race.
Palin will speak at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, a major gathering of Republican officials, donors and activists from 14 southern states, organizers announced Thursday.
"I'm looking forward to addressing conservative activists from across the south at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference," Palin said in a statement. "This is a great opportunity to listen and speak to those who are helping to set the direction of our party."
A Palin confidante said the governor is not being paid to speak at the event.
Washington (CNN) - A push to legalize same-sex marriages in New Jersey was defeated Thursday, as the state Senate voted 20 to 14 to reject the measure.
The bill passed through the State Senate's Judiciary Committee early last month by just one vote, but a vote by the chamber was delayed until this month as supporters of the legislation sought additional support.
Thursday's vote in the Garden State follows the same outcome last month in neighboring New York, where the state Senate voted down similar legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.
New Jersey currently offers civil unions for same sex couples.
Obama said America's first line of defense is "timely, accurate" intelligence that is properly integrated. "That's not what happened" before the attack, he said.
Obama cited three problems that contributed to the government's failure to prevent the attack.
First, the intelligence community didn't aggressively follow up on particular warnings.
Second, there was a larger failure to "connect the dots" within the intelligence community.
Third, there were shortcomings in the government's "watch list" system that prevented the alleged bomber from getting on the no-fly list.
There was "a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had," Obama said.
The president said he had ordered four reforms.